The BRAD BLOG https://bradblog.com Because it's not about Right or Left, it's about Right and Wrong! Sun, 18 Apr 2021 18:01:55 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.0.2 en Sunday 'Anti-Faxxers' Toons https://bradblog.com/?p=13828 https://bradblog.com/?p=13828#comments Sun, 18 Apr 2021 13:20:10 +0000 PDiddie Toons https://bradblog.com/?p=13828


Last: All the best to Matt Bors, who has drawn his final political toon...

I will continue to run The Nib in an almost full time capacity, publishing and editing our magazine and daily comics, while making some space in my life for other kinds of comics that I’m excited about but have never had the time to fully pursue.

Support the efforts of the surviving political cartoonists here.

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Perry Dorrell blogs as PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, usually on topics concerning
the strange brew of Texas politics. He's also on Twitter @PDiddie.


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Taking the 'DUH' Out of Floriduh: 'BradCast' 4/16/2021 https://bradblog.com/?p=13827 https://bradblog.com/?p=13827#comments Sat, 17 Apr 2021 03:10:32 +0000 Nicole Sandler Florida Health Care U.S. Supreme Court Washington D.C. NRA/Gun Violence Ted Deutch https://bradblog.com/?p=13827 NICOLE SANDLER here, once again guest hosting The BradCast. I'm numb today, as there was yet another mass shooting overnight. This one was at a Fed Ex facility in Indianapolis. The shooter, a 19-year old former employee, killed eight people before turning the gun on himself.

That follows another cop killing another Black kid, another school shooting, and another mass shooting before that…all within the last few weeks. And that's a non-exhaustive list.

I live in Coral Springs, FL. We're next door to Parkland, with whom we share Fire and Police departments. Obviously, we know from mass shootings down here.

My congressman is TED DEUTCH. Since the massacre of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School three years ago, Congressman Deutch has really stepped up his game on trying to do something about our national gun problem.

He was a guest on my own show Monday, and given the latest swarm of shootings, I thought that would be a good segment to include today.

Yesterday, I awoke to a story at The Intercept from RYAN GRIM, who reported that a group of progressive members of Congress were going to, on Friday, introduce a plan to expand the Supreme Court from its current nine members to 13. He joins us today to put that story into context, to explain why the PRO Act is so important, and a bit about the possibility of DC statehood anytime soon.

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Corporations Pretend to Stand Up for Democracy: 'BradCast' 4/15/2021 https://bradblog.com/?p=13826 https://bradblog.com/?p=13826#comments Fri, 16 Apr 2021 02:27:30 +0000 Brad Friedman Election Reform Georgia BRAD BLOG Media Appearance National Security Rights And Freedoms U.S. Senate France Vote Caging/Intimidation/Suppression Republicans Joe Biden Japan KPFK Donald Trump Mitch McConnell Nuclear power/weapons Russia Election 2016 BradCast Election 2020 Robert Mueller Paul Manafort Dept. of Treasury Konstantin Kilimnik Insurrection https://bradblog.com/?p=13826 On today's BradCast: It's nice to see hundreds of companies and corporate executives coming out in favor of democracy and voting rights. If only they actually meant it. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, however, the Biden Administration announced a spate of new sanctions against Russian organizations and individuals in response to both the massive Solar Winds hack of top U.S. agencies, including including the Treasury, Justice, Energy and Homeland Security departments, as well as for what is described as interference in the 2020 election on behalf of Donald Trump.  At the same time, the Administration seems to be going out of their way to downplay the sweeping sanctions by suggesting that they are open to top level discussions to avoid further exacerbating growing tensions between the two nations.

But one of the 32 individuals sanctioned is of note today because the announcement from the U.S. Treasury Department refers to the 2016 election, charging that the individual, Konstanin Kilimnik shared proprietary polling information given to him by Trump's first campaign manager, Paul Manafort, directly with Russian Intelligence Services.  If true, that would be significant new information. Previous reports on Russia's involvement in the 2016 election from both Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee cite the information Manafort is said to have given to his former business associate Kilimnik, a Russian and Ukrainian political operative linked to Russian intelligence. But neither of those voluminous report goes so far as to say that the data was subsequently given directly to Russian intelligence services.  Those reports acknowledge they were not able to learn what came of it after it was handed over to Kilimnik. Today's announcement of the sanctions by the Treasury, however, notes: "During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, Kilimnik provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy."

As national security website Just Security observes: "The Treasury Department’s new statement raises questions about why this information is coming out now and why the Special Counsel’s office did not have access to it during its investigation. Was it not available then or did it exist but was not provided to the Mueller team?"   So, does this mean the Biden Administration has uncovered details on manipulation of the 2016 election that was previously hidden or withheld by the Trump Administration?  It looks like the "Clean up on Aisle 45" will be continuing for quite some time. There is a LOT to clean up.

In not entirely unrelated news, hundreds of companies and corporate CEOs issued a full-size, two-page ad in the New York Times, Washington Post and other papers this week, with a short statement purporting to declare "WE STAND FOR DEMOCRACY," and noting: "We all should feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot."

Though the statement doesn't mention any specific states, it was issued in response to Republicans' recently enacted voters suppression law in Georgia and dozens of other states where similar restrictions on the franchise, in bills sponsored by GOP state lawmakers, are moving forward.  All of which is said to be in response to false claims by Trump and Republicans of massive fraud in 2020.  Georgia's new law, for example, makes it more difficult to vote by mail, limits the use of drop boxes, bans the distribution of food or water on long voting lines (which are all too typical in certain parts of the Peach State) and allows the partisan GOP state legislature to replace bipartisan County Election Boards with a single partisan person who will be able to unilaterally undermine elections or even overturn results.

While statements like the one issued this week in the two-page ad --- and, before it, by Atlanta-based companies such as Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines --- have resulted in good publicity for those signed onto them, they have also brought blowback from the right, leading Republicans (who pretend to abhor so-called "cancel culture") to demand boycotts of any company which stands up for voting rights.

I have railed in recent weeks about the absurdity of Republicans finally paying attention to concerns about new voter suppression laws only now that a number of corporations have come out in apparent opposition to such laws. Corporate entities, it seems, have far more sway with the GOP lawmakers who ignored weeks of complaints and protests about the new laws from actual voters before the GA law was passed.

But our guest today is seemingly even more cynical about these recent corporate declarations of fealty to democracy. We're joined today by MICHAEL HILTZIK, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and business columnist at the Los Angeles Times. He argued in his column this week that many of the "vague" declarations recently by large corporations are no substitute for actual action. He cites a host of companies, for example, which, following the January 6th U.S. Capitol insurrection, vowed to suspend donations to lawmakers who had voted to overturn the Electoral College results that same day. Despite those public pronouncements, he details one company after another --- from Jet Blue to AT&T to Toyota --- which, despite their previous public claims, have since given plenty of money to dozens of Republicans who voted against the certification of Biden's Electoral College victory.

In his column, he notes that while many companies and executives have come out in opposition of suppressive voting laws, almost none have gone on record to demand the passage of measures which would counteract them, such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act or H.R. 1, the For the People Act.

"It's not that unusual for businesses to affiliate themselves on the side of the angels when they feel a lot of popular pressure to do so.  But once again the question is, what are they going to do about it?," Hiltzik tells me today. "Let's face facts. Many of the companies --- if not all of them --- that signed on to these statements, these honeyed words, had been assiduous supporters of the politicians who are now out there introducing and passing laws that restrict the voting franchise."

Criticizing their failure to speak out before Georgia's law was adopted, for example, he says, "They didn't really put their reputations on the line when they didn't think they had to.  And, as a result, we have a law in Georgia that's going to be very hard to repeal because the more these companies come out and say this is wrong, the more the rightwing legislators who passed it are doubling down, saying 'We're not going to kowtow to these liberal leftwing corporations'.  So they lost their chance. They're trying to recover. But I don't think they really deserve a lot of credence just by signing a statement."

Moreover, he explains, many of these very same companies have been opponents of democracy within their own corporate organizations. "What's really hypocritical is that these same companies that have said 'We believe in democracy, we believe in everybody having a vote' --- they've actually gone to the Securities and Exchange Commission and asked for, and received, a tightening of the rules that makes it even harder for small shareholders to get resolutions on the annual meeting agenda, and to actually get votes on the resolutions that they submit."

There is plenty of cynicism on today's show to go around. And it extends to our discussion of the need for campaign finance reform, and several neat GOP tricks that have long been used to prevent such long-overdue efforts to keep corporations out of our elections altogether.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us once again for our latest Green News Report, which, as always, is chocked full of important news, including Japan's announcement that they intend to dump more than a million tons of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea. And we close with a follow up to that story from the Guardian today, regarding Japan's ill-fated attempt to marginalize concerns from their own citizens and neighboring countries, by using a cartoon character dubbed "Little Mr. Tritium" to make the massive release of radioactive wastewater slightly more adorable than it actually otherwise is...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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]]> https://bradblog.com/?feed=rss2&p=13826 'Green News Report' - April 15, 2021 https://bradblog.com/?p=13825 https://bradblog.com/?p=13825#comments Thu, 15 Apr 2021 18:12:47 +0000 Desi Doyen National Security Environment France Joe Biden Green News EPA Donald Trump Natural gas Nuclear power/weapons Climate change Extreme weather China Oceans Transportation Electric vehicles NOAA Infrastructure Pollution https://bradblog.com/?p=13825

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: U.S. global threat assessment warns climate change is a clear and present danger; Japan to dump Fukushima's radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean; Biden's budget seeks to undo Trump's damage; Atmospheric methane hits largest single-year increase on record; PLUS: To combat climate change, France moves to ban short airline flights... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): China ‘Must Shut 600 Coal-Fired Plants’ To Hit Climate Target; Big Companies Line Up to Crush Green Transparency Resolutions; Study Finds Lower Life Expectancy Around Superfund Sites; Tribal Lawsuit Halts Donlin Gold Mine; 'Seismic shift' at FERC could kill natural gas pipelines; Florida To Close Wastewater Reservoir With Leak History... PLUS: DDT’s Toxic Legacy Can Harm Granddaughters Of Women Exposed: Study... and much, MUCH more! ...

STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

For a comprehensive roundup of daily environmental news you can trust, see the Society of Environmental Journalists' Daily Headlines page


FOR MORE on Climate Science and Climate Change, go to our Green News Report: Essential Background Page

  • NASA Video: If we don't act, here's what to expect in the next 100 years:

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    Biden's Infrastructure Plan Begins the End of Government Socialism for the Fossil Fuel Industry: 'BradCast' 4/14/2021 https://bradblog.com/?p=13824 https://bradblog.com/?p=13824#comments Thu, 15 Apr 2021 01:46:17 +0000 Brad Friedman West Virginia 9/11 BRAD BLOG Media Appearance National Security Afghanistan Accountability Minnesota FBI Dept. of Defense Vote Caging/Intimidation/Suppression Joe Biden KPFK Donald Trump Natural gas Coal DHS Oil Climate change IRS/Taxes BradCast Electric vehicles Joe Manchin Infrastructure Carbon Tax Policing Insurrection https://bradblog.com/?p=13824 On today's BradCast: Joe Biden is on a "go big" roll that has stunned even many long time progressives. Another one of them joins us on today's show to sing the praises (mostly) of his $2.25 trillion infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal known as the American Jobs Plan. It will be paid for --- at least in very small part --- by ending long time direct subsidies (yes, government socialism) to the Fossil Fuel Industry. But, even on that, the industry is getting a break that they shouldn't. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

    First up today, however, some noteworthy news headlines...

    • The white Brooklyn Center, Minnesota police officer who resigned yesterday after shooting black motorist Daunte Wright during a traffic stop on Sunday, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter after days of protest and unrest. The city's Police Chief, who also resigned on Tuesday, has said that the 26-year veteran officer, Kim Potter, meant to taze the 20-year old Wright, but shot him instead.
    • A scathing new Inspector General's report finds that U.S. Capitol Police were instructed by leadership not to use their best crowd-control weapons on January 6th, despite clear intelligence from the FBI and Dept. of Homeland Security warning that "Congress itself is the target" for protests by Donald Trump supporters who were scammed by his false claims that the Presidential election was stolen. In the days before the assault, pro-Trump social media sites included explicit details regarding plans by MAGA Mob extremists to target both the Capitol and members of Congress, including maps of underground tunnels at the Capitol building and threats calling for "violence" and "war". While DHS and the FBI were aware of these threats --- and, therefore, so was Trump --- for reasons that still remain unclear, the Capitol Police were left wildly unprepared for the deadly siege.
    • And, in perhaps the most critical news of the day, President Biden announced, in no uncertain terms, his plans to remove all U.S. troops (other than those needed to protect diplomats) from Afghanistan no later than September 11th of this year, the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. He explained his reasoning and responded to critics of the move in remarks at the White House today, declaring that "It's time to end the forever war." We share extended excerpts from his address.

    Then, we're joined by the great energy and climate journalist DAVID ROBERTS --- formerly of Vox, now publishing his own must-read newsletter called "Volts" --- for insight into Biden's plans to pay for what Roberts characterizes as a remarkably progressive infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal.

    Introduced two weeks ago, the American Jobs Plan is to be paid for largely by an increase on the corporate tax rate. But, as Roberts detailed in a recent Volts article, it will also include a repeal of some of the permanent subsidies to the Fossil Fuel industry which they have enjoyed for decades, as written into the tax code. While many progressives are pleased about that, including Roberts, the fact is that those direct subsidies to the industry, as he points out, amount to a very small fraction of the cost of Biden's ambitious plan. Indeed, at some $35 billion for the entire industry, spread out over ten years, it also amounts to a very small amount of the true cost of the "indirectsubsidies" or "externalities" which the public pays for to boost profits for the polluting industry.

    The direct subsidies, says Roberts, are "a drop in the bucket" compared to "the total amount of money that would be raised if you went after the indirect subsidies" with a carbon tax that accounts for the true cost of the industry's "products that produce a lot of social harm.  Harm in terms of air pollution that they generate, which then produces health costs, and people miss work. There's the climate damages that they do when they're burned. There's land pollution. There's abandoned oil and gas wells at the end of their life. Those cost a lot of money" to clean up, which the companies rarely, if ever, do.

    "The oil and gas industry itself doesn't pay any of those costs. So when your product imposes all these costs and you don't pay them, the public steps in and pays them. Like the kids with asthma who are paying, rather than the fossil fuel companies." Roberts suggests "those externalities, as they're called, have always been the premise for a carbon tax, why we would want to put a tax on carbon so that you can recoup all these damages that the oil and gas industry are not paying for."

    Still, setting aside how the package is to be paid for, Roberts concedes that he is "pleasantly surprised" about the "super-big and ambitious" package which includes, as he also details, a whole bunch of cool stuff that has received little coverage, since there is actually so much packed into the sweeping, long-overdue proposal.

    How to get it passed, however --- and, specifically approved by "our emperor and benefactor Joe Manchin, long may He reign" --- is another matter, which we discuss in detail today as well.

    "Where we are is so ludicrously far away from where we need to be, that it becomes difficult to judge anything in the middle," Roberts argues. "Is this a good big step or is it a grossly inadequate step? Yes. It's both. Everything we're going to do on climate change for the next decades will fit that description. It's going to be big and not big enough."

    We then close today with a quick thought or two on a new statement from hundreds of companies and corporate executives in opposition to the GOP attempts to restrict voting rights around the country. We hope to have more time to discuss the matter on tomorrow's BradCast...

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    ]]> https://bradblog.com/?feed=rss2&p=13824 'Both Sides'? Really, Liz?: 'BradCast' 4/13/2021 https://bradblog.com/?p=13823 https://bradblog.com/?p=13823#comments Wed, 14 Apr 2021 01:41:57 +0000 Brad Friedman California 9/11 BRAD BLOG Media Appearance Virginia National Security Afghanistan Accountability Environment Minnesota Barack Obama Republicans Joe Biden KPFK DHS Climate change Extreme weather BradCast Electric vehicles Race Liz Cheney Coronavirus/COVID-19 Policing Insurrection https://bradblog.com/?p=13823 Hopefully today's BradCast, if nothing else, serves as a friendly reminder that Liz Cheney --- whether or not she met the incredibly low Republican bar by voting to impeach Donald Trump after the January 6th MAGA Mob insurrection at the U.S. Capitol --- is still not your friend, much less some sort of hero. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary below.]

    Among the many news items and important insights and context covered on today's program...

    • The Biden Administration will finally withdraw the last of our 2,500 U.S. troops still deployed to Afghanistan by September 11th of this year, 20 years after the 9/11 attacks which resulted in our seemingly endless war there and elsewhere. For some reason we remain dubious about that exit date...even if we are hopeful.
    • The FDA and CDC are recommending a "pause" on the use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID vaccine after finding it led to rare blood clots in six women out of more than 3.8 doses administered in the U.S. For the record, the coronavirus, as of today, has killed more than 562,000 Americans to date, which is more deaths over the past year than 188 September 11th attacks.
    • After two nights of protests and unrest in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota --- a suburb outside of Minneapolis, where white, former cop Dereck Chauvin is currently on trial for the murder of George Floyd --- the city's Police Chief and 26-year officer Kim Potter resigned Tuesday following her Sunday killing of Daunte Wright. Potter says she accidentally shot the 20-year old black man while attempting to taze him after he was pulled over for expired tags on his vehicle. The incident was capture by Potter's body cam video released on Monday, the day after the shooting.
    • As disturbing as the video of Wright's killing was, another confrontation captured via body cam between cops and a black Hispanic man --- this one, a uniformed Army lieutenant named Caron Nazario --- is arguably even more disturbing for reasons we discuss on today's show. The incident, which included the berating and point-blank pepper-spraying at gun-point of an incredibly compliant and polite unarmed Nazario, occurred last December. The video tape, however, was only released publicly on Monday as part of Nazario's lawsuit against the abusive Windsor, Virginia police officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker who pulled him over on a dark highway for a missing permanent license plate on his new car. (Temporary tags were in the window and clearly visible in the video tape.) Gutierrez has now resigned and Virginia's Attorney General has opened a civil rights investigation into the incident, one of undoubtedly thousands of similar ones not caught on viral video tape each year in America.
    • Wyoming's Republican Rep. Liz Cheney has been attacked by many in her party and lauded by some on the non-right for living up to the absolutely lowest expectations for a Republican these days after having voted in favor of the second impeachment of Trump in January, for his incitement of the U.S. Capitol attack. But, as we've noted on several occasions since then, nobody should mistake her for anything other than her diabolically rightwing father's daughter. That was made clear on Monday during an appearance with Georgetown’s Institute of Politics and Public Service when she appeared to condemn the radical extremism rampant in her own party while simultaneously "both sidesing" the matter with references to extremist in "both parties". Sorry, Liz. This isn't even close to a "both sides" issue. But, if there are still any question about that...
    • ...Disturbing new data released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), reaching back 25 years and analyzed by the Washington Post on Monday, finds "Domestic terrorism incidents have soared to new highs in the United States, driven chiefly by white-supremacist, anti-Muslim and anti-government extremists on the far right." And the numbers of both incidents and fatalities in recent years aren't even close to those attributed to "far left" attacks. We comb through the Post's analysis of the troubling data, while noting its alarming similarity to the warnings included in a 2009 DHS report on far-right domestic extremism that was ultimately retracted by the Obama Administration after Republicans pretended to be outraged about it (after saying nothing about a similar report regarding left-wing extremism released just prior.) Coincidentally we notice that WaPo's original headline for their analysis on Monday was "Domestic terrorism data shows right-wing violence on the rise." That was apparently quickly changed online yesterday to the more GOP-friendly "The rise of domestic extremism in America." We're sure Liz Cheney is delighted about that.
    • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, chocked full of troubling climate change news, as usual, but featuring at least one story that leaves us moderately more hopeful today...at least when it comes to the ability for warring battery makers to come together for the good of our not-a-moment-too-soon electric car future...

    CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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    ]]> https://bradblog.com/?feed=rss2&p=13823 'Green News Report' - April 13, 2021 https://bradblog.com/?p=13822 https://bradblog.com/?p=13822#comments Tue, 13 Apr 2021 17:57:55 +0000 Desi Doyen California Colorado New Mexico Environment Democrats Joe Biden Green News Donald Trump Wind energy Solar energy Climate change Extreme weather Gavin Newsom Electric vehicles Dept. of Energy Infrastructure PG&E https://bradblog.com/?p=13822

    IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: U.S. West sinks deeper into drought, setting up dangerous fire season and water cutbacks on the Colorado River; California unveils sweeping wildfire prevention plan; Major battery company settlement allows Georgia EV factory to move ahead; PLUS: NOAA predicts above-average 2021 hurricane season, and redefines the new 'normal'... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

    GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
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    IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Texas Wind Energy Set a Record—But Republicans Are Still Trying to Squash It; US to enter mega drought which will be the worst for 1200 years – here’s what to expect; Nervous North American farmers set to 'seed in faith' into parched soils; U.S. Won’t Shut Dakota Access Pipe Amid New Environmental Review; Japan Says It Plans To Release Contaminated Fukushima Water Into Sea; Leaked calls show ALEC’s secret plan to fight Biden on climate ... PLUS: Are Huge Tree Planting Projects More Hype than Solution?... and much, MUCH more! ...

    STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

    'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

    For a comprehensive roundup of daily environmental news you can trust, see the Society of Environmental Journalists' Daily Headlines page


    FOR MORE on Climate Science and Climate Change, go to our Green News Report: Essential Background Page

  • NASA Video: If we don't act, here's what to expect in the next 100 years:

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    The SCOTUS-Approved, FCC Ownership Rule Catch-22: 'BradCast' 4/12/2021 https://bradblog.com/?p=13821 https://bradblog.com/?p=13821#comments Tue, 13 Apr 2021 01:42:28 +0000 Brad Friedman California Mainstream Corporate Media Georgia BRAD BLOG Media Appearance Rights And Freedoms Vote Caging/Intimidation/Suppression Democrats Republicans Michigan U.S. Supreme Court Joe Biden FCC KPFK Mitch McConnell BradCast CDC Brett Kavanaugh Gretchen Whitmer Coronavirus/COVID-19 https://bradblog.com/?p=13821 On today's BradCast, our lonely fight to save what is left of our public airwaves continues, as mainstream media outlets continue to benefit from --- and therefore do not bother to report on --- the march toward full corporate ownership of what were once our prized and protected airwaves. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

    But first up today, the breaking news on that nation's latest school shooting. Today it was in Knoxville, Tennessee.

    Next, the vaccination of the nation continues apace, with about 36% of adult Americans now having received at least one shot. This week, many more states will open eligibility to all adults 16 years of age and older in advance of Joe Biden's national date for doing so in all 50 states next Monday (April 19). Here in Los Angeles, all adult residents will be eligible as of Tuesday. We offer a few tips for how to get an appointment quickly. (Specifically, Kaiser-Permanente appears to have tons of available appointments, for members and non-members alike, via their website at KP.org.)

    While vaccinations are proceeding at an impressive pace, hitting another 24-hour record of 4.6 million shots on Saturday, the race to outpace the spread of variants continues. While much of the nation is plateauing in case numbers at high levels or even surging slightly upward, a number of states, particularly in the Northeast and upper Midwest are surging quite steeply. The most disturbing case at the moment, by far, is in Michigan, where its Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been begging the Biden Administration for a vaccine surge in response to a spike that is as bad there as it was last Fall. For reasons that aren't entirely clear, the Administration has offered additional vaccinators and test kits, but not additional vaccine as of now. The CDC Director said on Monday that what is needed in MI's case is not more vaccine, but lockdowns. However, one of the reasons the state is in such bad shape now is because Trump-incited rightwingers last year not only rebelled against Whitmer's mandatory lockdowns, but even hatched a plot to kidnap her after Trump tweeted to "Liberate Michigan!"

    What happens in Michigan, unfortunately, won't stay in Michigan. Their surge will spread elsewhere unless someone figures out how to get it under control. Similarly, what happens in Georgia will absolutely not stay in Georgia, as Republican lawmakers across the country are continuing to push voter suppression measures akin to the suppressive law adopted by Republicans in the Peach State last month.

    The corporate pushback against Georgia's anti-voting law and those in other states continues to grow. Over the weekend, 100 corporate executives held a Zoom meeting to discuss how they planned to respond. On Monday, the first major Hollywood production --- Will Smith's "Emancipation" film --- previously set to film in Georgia, announced they were pulling production from the state due to the new law. Other productions could follow suit, given that Georgia has become a bit of a filmmakers Mecca by offering generous tax breaks to Hollywood production teams.

    In addition to the group of corporate execs planning their own actions against anti-democracy laws, a group of some 60 law firms is reportedly teaming up to take action as well. That said, it's pathetic that the citizenry has to rely on corporations to become angry enough that Republicans might pay attention to their concerns --- the same concerns that the GOP ignored when they came from the citizenry itself before Georgia adopted its new law. In today's America, the citizenry don't seem to matter. It's corporate dollars to (or withheld from) Republicans that appears to be our only chance of convincing desperate Republicans to block or rollback these onerous restrictions on access to the ballot box. We're happy to see companies jumping in, but its absurd that we need to rely on them to somehow save "democracy".

    Speaking of the need to save democracy, we're then joined by media reform activist SUE WILSON of the Media Action Center. Late last year, she and former Republican FCC official Art Belendiuk joined us on the program to discuss actions they were taking to expose the fact that rightwing media behemoth Sinclair Broadcasting appeared to be blatantly violating FCC ownership rules by taking secret ownership of more than one television station in a number of major markets, using sham front companies to skirt federal scrutiny.

    At the same time, as Wilson reports today at BradBlog.com, the FCC has been attempting to change its own media ownership rules to allow for more corporate consolidation by granting major broadcasters the right to own more than one TV station in any given market. The FCC's initial attempt to change the rule preventing companies from controlling all of the public airwaves in major markets was blocked by the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which found that the FCC violated the Administrative Procedures Act in not carrying out proper studies to determine the effects of the rule change on broadcast outlets owned by women and minorities. SCOTUS heard the FCC's appeal in the case on January 19th (Trump's last full day in office). The Court handed down its decision in FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project on April 1, overturning the lower court to allow the FCC's new, relaxed ownership rule, even as Justice Kavanaugh, in his opinion for the unanimous Court, conceded that the record evidence relied on by the FCC was "sparse". But, he held on behalf of the Court, the rules in question, now changed by the FCC, "were no longer necessary to serve the agency's public interest goals."

    As Wilson found, however, the reason the record was so sparse was because the FCC had carried out no studies of its own to determine the adverse effect of consolidation on minority owned business before formalizing their new rules. They relied instead on private organizations to present evidence as to why the consolidation would harm minority broadcasters. But private organizations did not have access to much of the FCC's public information, because the federal agency hasn't collected the information from stations around the country.

    It all amounts to what Wilson describes as a Catch-22 that ill-serves the public, and further undermines our public airwaves, handing off even more control to corporate interests, rather than we, the people. "This is the worst decision that nobody knows about," Wilson tells me. And, of course, they don't know about it, because mainstream corporate broadcasters benefits from the rule change, so they haven't bothered to mention much about it to any of their listeners or viewers.

    Wilson argues that Congress needs to take action, and asks listeners to contact their members of Congress. "We're finding that Republicans and Democrats are very interested in this [because] this is bad for our whole country."

    Finally, we open up the phones for a few quick minutes today, to hear from listeners on both the FCC's latest boondoggle and with more thoughts on vaccination nation...

    CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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    ]]> https://bradblog.com/?feed=rss2&p=13821 SCOTUS Approves FCC Rule Allowing Further Consolidation of Local Media Outlets https://bradblog.com/?p=13820 https://bradblog.com/?p=13820#comments Mon, 12 Apr 2021 16:35:25 +0000 Sue Wilson Mainstream Corporate Media U.S. Supreme Court FCC Sinclair Broadcasting Brett Kavanaugh https://bradblog.com/?p=13820 While I was researching a piece last September about Sinclair Broadcasting's illegal TV ownership shell game, I stumbled into a Supreme Court case. Donald Trump's Federal Communications Commission Chair, Ajit Pai, had filed a case at SCOTUS, Federal Communications Commission v. Prometheus Radio Project [PDF], which would allow one media conglomerate to own the local newspaper, 2 network TV stations, 1-2 additional TV stations, and 8 radio stations --- all in the same community.

    The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals had previously found, in 2017, that the FCC failed to adequately study the matter before making the rules change that would adversely affect ownership of media outlets by women and minorities.

    But the danger of the scheme to all of us was immediately apparent. Imagine the potential for propaganda by allowing one company to control the local reporters in virtually every media outlet in a single town!

    I had already discovered that Sinclair Broadcasting was illegally controlling three TV stations in Columbus, Ohio, and doing little more than duplicating local news content across all three stations. So, on advice of my colleague and friend Brad Friedman, I began writing an Amicus ("Friend of the Court") brief in the case to inform the U.S. Supreme Court of this and other related information.

    My first step was to find the research papers the FCC had done on the topic before its Chair --- on behalf of we, the people --- filed its case with SCOTUS. To my surprise, however, I found there were none. Zip, nada, nothing. The FCC was literally taking a case to the Supreme Court in which it had done no independent research at all...

    So, with the aid of Media Action Center (MAC) volunteers, our Amicus brief [PDF] presented a database with photographic evidence showing that since the FCC began issuing waivers for station groups to own two network TV stations in the same town, industry leaders Nexstar, Sinclair Broadcasting, Gray TV, Scripps, and Tegna collectively now control two network TV stations in 70 different communities across the United States. Despite their promises that they would provide more and better local news by being allowed to own two network stations, MAC found in 53 towns, these broadcasters merely duplicate the same news stories on both of its local Network affiliate stations.

    The broadcasting industry told the Supreme Court that by consolidating two Network stations they can provide better local news coverage. But we found that the opposite is true. Powerful stuff, I thought.

    But it didn't matter. The Court was not interested in what damage has already occurred due to this rule change; they only wanted to know what data had been provided prior to the rule change for the FCC to have made its decision. This sets up the Catch-22.

    During oral arguments in FCC v Prometheus on January 19, the final full day of the Trump Administration, Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked Prometheus' counsel, Ruthanne M. Deutsch, what research she had to back up her assertions that allowing one station group to have multiple TV stations in the same market would harm opportunities for minorities and females to have any stations at all. Prometheus argued that the FCC was relying on flawed or non-existent data to make its assessment, and Deutsch cited a Free Press study to back up her case.

    But Kavanaugh went on to say that during the FCC's proposed rulemaking process, everybody and anybody could have submitted data...but they did not.

    On Thursday, April 1, SCOTUS reversed the lower court's 2017 finding that the Commission failed to take appropriate steps to study the effect of this change in rules for women and minority owners. The high court unanimously allowed these egregious consolidation rules to go into effect.

    In the opinion issued by Justice Kavanaugh [PDF], the court held that the "FCC considered the record evidence and reasonably concluded that the three ownership rules at issue were no longer necessary to serve the agency's public interest goals." Kavanaugh further wrote that "the FCC acknowledged the gaps in the data sets it relied on, and noted that, despite its repeated requests for additional data, it had received no countervailing evidence."

    "The Commission further explained that its best estimate, based on the sparse record evidence, was that repealing or modifying the three rules at issue here was not likely to harm minority and female ownership," Kavanaugh asserted on behalf of the Court. That, he wrote, was enough for the agency to meet the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) in question. Siding with the FCC, he declared: "In light of the sparse record on minority and female ownership and the FCC’s findings with respect to competition, localism, and viewpoint diversity, we cannot say that the agency’s decision to repeal or modify the ownership rules fell outside the zone of reasonableness for purposes of the APA."

    Cheryl Leanza, the United Church of Christ's media justice policy advisor and co-counsel for Prometheus in the case, wrote, "The sparse record is the FCC's own fault. Any analysis of this question must rely on the FCC's data and yet the FCC has long permitted broadcast licensees to avoid filing their ownership data with impunity." That has left independent researchers blinded to key data needed to fully assess the practical effect of ownership rules enacted by the federal agency.

    The FCC used to commission its own studies on local broadcasting. In 2002, the FCC issued its own report called "Broadcast Television: Survivor in a Sea of Competition" [PDF] which showed local TV stations in large markets were making as much as 46% annual profits. Now --- or, at least under former President Donald Trump --- the FCC puts out obscure "Notice of Prospective Rulemaking" calls for consumers and largely underfunded non-profit groups to provide their own research to counter that which is provided to the FCC by well-heeled industry leaders, like the National Association of Broadcasters, which applauded the SCOTUS ruling (and, yes, Sinclair Broadcasting's stock shot up more than 3% that day.)

    So these rules, which will further decimate local reporting, will go into effect. Current FCC acting Chair, Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel can chip away at the edges, but as soon as Republicans retake the White House, the floodgates of misinformation will open up in Everytown, USA.

    Why is Congress allowing a politically driven agency to make democracy decisions in the first place? The FCC was originally formed to keep one radio station's signal from bumping into another; now it is colluding with major media conglomerates to rob free speech rights of the very people whose interest it is sworn to serve.

    Broadcasting is legally supposed to "serve the public interest." So contact your Senators and Representatives! Tell them Congress must supercede the administrative agency's rules and pass actual laws to protect We the People from unscrupulous broadcasters controlling all or most of what we hear and see on local radio and TV. And do it now, while they still can.

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    APTRA, RTNDA, PRNDI and Emmy-winning Sue Wilson is a broadcast activist journalist, the director of the documentary Broadcast Blues, and founder of the Media Action Center. Reach her at act@mediaactioncenter.net or via Twitter at @SueBluesWilson

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    UPDATE FROM BRAD 4/12/2021: Sue Wilson joined me to discuss this issue on today's The BradCast...


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    Sunday 'Avoid the Politicks' Toons https://bradblog.com/?p=13819 https://bradblog.com/?p=13819#comments Sun, 11 Apr 2021 13:08:15 +0000 PDiddie Toons https://bradblog.com/?p=13819

    Wayne LaPierre hid on luxury yacht after Sandy Hook shootings

    And now for something completely different ... Oglaf. "Who Knew?"

    Last: All the best to Matt Bors, who has drawn his final political toon...

    My last original cartoon was two weeks ago. Today’s comic is a re-run based on my Mr. Gotcha comic, which became a bit of a meme.

    I will continue to run The Nib in an almost full time capacity, publishing and editing our magazine and daily comics, while making some space in my life for other kinds of comics that I’m excited about but have never had the time to fully pursue.

    Support the efforts of the surviving political cartoonists here.

    * * *
    Perry Dorrell blogs as PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, usually on topics concerning
    the strange brew of Texas politics. He's also on Twitter @PDiddie.


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